Air Transport World

Delta's O'Hare alternative. (Delta Airlines Inc. establishes hub at Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International) (Airports) (Column)

In the early 19th century, Cincinnati was a booming river town. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called it the Queen of the West. But following the Civil War, Chicago eclipsed the Ohio city as a commercial center. Now, with help from Delta Air Lines, Cincinnati is taking revenge on its lakefront rival.

In ads to both travel agents and prospective passengers, Delta has been giving Chicago's O'Hare Airport a drubbing, touting the superiority of its own burgeoning hub at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International (CVG). One ad asks: "Do you dread opening up your ticket jacket to see 'ORD' -those three little letters that spell connection nightmare? Try an airport where connecting is actually easy."

Delta's Cincinnati complex, consisting of a terminal and two concourses, was completed in December. At $375 million, construction of the terminal and one of the concourses was the "largest single expansion and renovation project in Delta's history," says Chairman/GEO/President Ronald W. Allen.

That would be quite a commitment under any circumstances but particularly at a time of huge losses, when Delta is in the midst of its Leadership 7.5 austerity program, named for the reduction target in systemwide ASM cost.

It represents even more of a commitment when the unusual financing is considered: Instead of the airport board issuing general-revenue bonds, Delta itself issued more than $500 million in specialfacility revenue bonds for this and related projects. That meant construction could be undertaken without involving the other airline tenants and Delta enjoys substantial responsibility for its own buildings. …

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